Wake Forest to Unveil Demon Deacon Statue

Oct. 8, 2008

The Deacon mascot plays a unique role in the identity, history and tradition of Wake Forest University. Over the years the Demon Deacon has evolved from a fraternity dare to a beloved game-day entertainer.

A new Deacon Statue created by renowned sculptor John Hair honors the distinctive persona and spirit of the beloved Wake Forest mascot. The statue is located in McCreary Plaza in front of Deacon Tower at BB&T Field.

Wake Forest will hold a Deacon Statue dedication ceremony open to the public at 4:30 p.m. prior to the nationally televised home football game against Clemson on Thursday, October 9.

A limited number of commemorative posters will be available at the dedication and in the Deacon Shop. All members of the Wake Forest faithful are invited to take part in the statue dedication.

The statue was sculpted by renowned artist Jon Hair. Hair is well-known for his art. He is the official sculptor of the U.S. Olympic Team and has created sculptures for such colleges as Purdue University, Bowling Green State Univesity, High Point University, North Carolina-Charlotte, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Disney World.

After Wake Forest defeated rival Trinity (now Duke) in the 1923 football season, school newspaper editor Mayon Parker ('24) first referred to the team as "Demon Deacons," in recognition of what he termed their "devilish" play and fighting spirit.

Historical articles differ on who was the first Demon Deacon mascot.

Some claim that J. Allie Hayes `35, a varsity athlete at Wake Forest, was the first Deacon mascot, sporting the split-tail coat and a top hat that have become synonymous with the mascot. The outfit was supplied by Dr. Isbell, a religion instructor, in 1933.

Other accounts claim that it was not until 1941 that Wake Forest had a Deacon mascot at its athletic contests. Jack Baldwin ('43) is cited as the original student Deacon mascot, the first of a long line of entertainers to lead the school's teams into action.

Baldwin and his friends agreed that what Wake Forest needed was someone dressed like a deacon -- top hat, tails, and a black umbrella. They wanted him to be more dignified than other mascots, sort of like an old Baptist Deacon would dress.

An old tuxedo was found. So was a worn top hat, and the following Saturday, there was Baldwin leading the Wake Forest football team onto the field, riding the North Carolina ram.

Today special try-outs are held annually to fill the Deacon's shoes.

Over the years the Deacon has preformed numerous memorable stunts. Jimmy Devos ('55) shocked a Bowman Gray Stadium football crowd one afternoon by dropping his pants - only to reveal a pair of colorful Bermuda shorts. Ray Whitley ('57), introduced the art of goal-climbing to Wake Forest contests. Bill Shepherd ('60) answered Auburn's war eagle cry with his own "turkey buzzard", and Hap Bulger ('65) gained notoriety as the stately "Debonair Deacon". The first two women Deacons, Sandra Grant ('73) and Ann Hope ('75) helped blend contemporary attitudes with cherished traditions when they donned the top hat. Every Deacon has flavored the tradition of the mascot, making it his (or her) own.

Perhaps the most well-known Deacon was Jeff Dobbs ('77), a spirited and acrobatic dancer.

The Deacon stands alone as a unique representative of Wake Forest. Easily recognizable, always distinctive, he adds a special dimension to WFU athletics wherever he goes.

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